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What is Postpartum Depression? (And How to Overcome It)

A women that is pregnant and showing.

Have you or a loved one recently had a baby? If so, then you might already know how becoming a parent can trigger all sorts of feelings. From excitement and joy to overwhelming anxiety, postpartum depression is typical for new moms (and dads!) to experience a wide array of emotions.

While most of those emotions are not unfamiliar, there is a special kind of depression that affects new parents, specifically. Postpartum depression, as it so happens to be called, is common, and it affects roughly 1 in 10 women after they have given birth. (Certain studies claim it actually affects 1 in 7 women.)

However, what is postpartum depression? And what are the symptoms of postpartum depression? And more importantly, how should new parents cope?

As a Licensed Professional Counselor and therapist, I am here to answer all those questions and more. Keep reading to learn what is postpartum depression and my top tips for overcoming it.

What is Postpartum Depression?

So, what is postpartum depression anyways? Well, it’s best to begin by explaining something known as the “baby blues.” The “baby blues” are a brief period of mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and sleeping troubles that many new moms experience shortly after giving birth.

Usually, they last just a few days (2 weeks at the most), but postpartum depression occurs when symptoms stretch beyond that. Seen as a more severe, long-lasting form of the “baby blues,” postpartum depression can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for her baby and handle everyday tasks.

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

So, is it the “baby blues” or postpartum depression? While they are similar, the symptoms of postpartum depression are usually more intense and last longer. Normally, symptoms develop within the first few weeks of giving birth. However, some mothers experience them as early as pregnancy or as late as one-year post-birth.

While this list is not all-encompassing, the symptoms of postpartum depression include: 

  • Depressed mood or mood swings 
  • Excessive crying 
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby 
  • Withdrawing from your family and friends 
  • Loss of appetite or overeating 
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much 
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy 
  • Reduced interest in things and activities that you once enjoyed
  • Intense anger or irritability 
  • Fear that you’re a bad mother 
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling shame, guilt, inadequacy, or worthlessness
  • Lessened ability to think clearly or concentrate
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Recurrent thoughts of death 
  • Thoughts of self-harm (or harming your baby)

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that typically develops within the first week of giving birth. It only affects 1-2 out of 1,000 new mothers, and it is usually preceded by a personal or family history of bipolar disorder and/or a previous psychotic episode.

The symptoms of postpartum psychosis include: 

  • Delusions or strange beliefs 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Extreme irritation 
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia 
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Difficulty communicating 
  • Rapid mood swings

Tips for Overcoming Postpartum Depression

Are you or a loved one suffering from postpartum depression? Having helped hundreds of clients conquer their mental health issues, here are my top tips for overcoming postpartum depression:

Bond With Your Baby

The first step to overcoming your postpartum depression is to build a strong bond with your baby. Postpartum depression can significantly impact early bonding, yet meaningful parental attachment is necessary for a baby’s behavioral and cognitive growth.

Of course, parental bonding also has a significant impact on the mother. Having close contact with an infant releases oxytocin (aka the love hormone), which makes parents feel happier, care more, and become more sensitive to the feelings of others.

To strengthen your and your baby’s bond, I recommend skin-to-skin contact, giving your baby a massage, smiling at your baby, and singing to him/her.

Take Care of Yourself

If you’re struggling with postpartum depression, it is essential that you take the time to care for yourself. Make sure to nap whenever your baby naps, spend some time in the sunshine, eat all your omega-3s (found commonly in fish), and practice a self-care regimen.

Try to Exercise

It can be tough to exercise when there’s a newborn around. However, studies have shown that physical activity is an excellent way to combat postpartum depression. If you’re not sure where to start, walking for just 30 minutes a day can have a tremendous impact on both your mental and physical health (and you can push a stroller while you do it).

Foster a Support Network

Remember that you don’t have to face postpartum depression alone. Humans are social beings and fostering positive social interactions will help reduce any stress and anxiety that you might be feeling.

If finding a large group of friends sounds overwhelming to you, simply focus on building one or two solid relationships. These relationships can be found anywhere. Seek out friends, neighbors, coworkers, other new parents, or a trusted mental health counselor.

Try Psychotherapy or Meditation

Both psychotherapy and meditation can greatly reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression. As a professional therapist, I can provide a safe space for you to discuss your concerns and feelings. Not only that, but I can equip you with the techniques and tools to foster long-term change.

One of my favorite tools to combat depressive feelings is practicing meditation. If you are unsure how to begin—or uncomfortable practicing on your own—I would be more than happy to walk you through the process.

Best Depression Therapist in Fort Worth, Texas

If you or a loved one is struggling with postpartum depression, I hope that today’s blog post was helpful. As a professional mental health therapist, it has become my life’s mission to help people overcome their feelings of depression and anxiety.

If you have tried overcoming your postpartum depression and are still struggling, then I encourage you to schedule an appointment at my office. With over a decade of experience helping people overcome their mental health struggles, I am confident in my ability to help you.

Trust me when I say that a brighter future awaits. Schedule your appointment today.